Visiting us for the first time since they were openers for Metallica, Godsmack fell back into their leading role and headlined at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre on Thursday, September 14th. Handing the opening torch over to Rob Zombie for this chaotic mid-week event, Godsmack started the night off with a unique video montage highlighted by scenes of Sully drinking and partying backstage with Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and Metallica's James Hetfield. Then, in a unique and twisted perspective, Godsmack gave the Chicago crowd a backstage point of view on their live stroll up to the expansive stage setup. This real time camcorder feed was all set to AC/DC's "For those about to Rock." In typical Godsmack form, pyro blasted the evening off as the guys quietly crept on stage before a truly thunderous performance.
Much like their DVD release Changes; the guys from Boston led the set off at about 9:25pm CST with concert mainstay "Straight out of Line." Warned by Sully that they were going to touch on all of the Godsmack studio releases, the guys wasted no time diving into 2006' IV by blasting out "Speak," "The Enemy" and "Livin In Sin." Not fazed by this new sound at all, the crowd was still thirsty for a healthy dose of classic Godsmack. On the coattails Tony Rombola's amazing guitar solo, a studio-like version of "Moon Baby" was next on the night's agenda. And, as the opening notes of "Re-Align" began to chime through the sold out pavilion, the Godsmack symbol descended from the skies and began spinning and breathing fire at the now transfixed Chicago mass of fans. No song could have been more perfectly placed as when Shannon led everyone into 2000's self-titled album release of "Awake." Classic Godsmack at its finest.
Taking only a quick breath, the mood was slowed down with a more than obvious Zeppelin inspired guitar solo. "Trippin" was eerie, creepy and dark yet amazingly subtle for a rock band like this. Elements of "Dazed and Confused" could be heard through the instruments of four east coast rockers who have the rock world clearly conquered. As the green, purple and blue stage lights then gave way from the Grammy-nominated instrumental hit "Vampires," seven fire cannons exploded with eager anticipation. "Keep Away" tuned the crowed right back into the mayhem that Godsmack was instigating. Sully called for the fans to assist and the Chicago faithful did that and more. Stopping for just a moment, he noted that this was not only the best crowd of the tour but also the loudest. How do you follow something like that up? "VooDoo," plain and simple. As Tony brought his acoustic weapon up to the stage for an extended introduction, the rest of the guys began the sinister march into the Godsmack-defining anthem. Not long after the words "...not the one who's so far away" were muttered, the "Batalla De Los Tambores" was on. For those of you who have never enjoyed the raw experience of a Godsmack concert, this is where Sully Erna goes demonstrates his original music roots and twenty-three years of drumming experience by getting behind a drum kit. With Shannon Larkin's platform being projected towards the front of the stage, Sully was not far behind beating the skins at a maddening pace. Going three for four on the drum stick toss and catch game, a now shirtless Sully Erna had his sleeve-tattoos on display and a thirst for more classic rock. A quick medley of additional AC/DC and Ozzy classics gave way only to "Whatever." Not only was the crowd as loud as ever at this point, but grey and red confetti (that mirrored the cover of IV) rained down from the sky as he shouted "Go Away!" American rock at its finest. With that, the guys retreated off the stage for a temporary break of the madness that was not yet quite finished.
As the seats began to thunder and echo through the pavilion of the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, the guys came back to IV by playing the fifth track on the album titled "Shine Down." Appropriately, Sully called for Brent Smith (Shinedown's front man) to accompany him and his harmonica on this future radio release. Although not flawlessly delivered, it was a setup for the eventual closing song that everyone had waited all night to hear. Awake release "I Stand Alone" was one final punch in the face for all in attendance on Thursday night. With fans screaming at the top of their lungs, Godsmack ended the madness about an hour and a half after it began. On a perfect summer night in Chicago, everyone left the venue certain that every cent of their ticket was paid in full.